17 inmates on death-row will be spared execution thanks to a recent decision by Oregon governor Kate Brown. On Tuesday, Brown said the death-row inmates will be downgraded to life in prison without possibility of parole.
“I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people — even if a terrible crime placed them in prison,” the outgoing Democratic governor said in a statement.
She added: “This commutation is not based on any rehabilitative efforts by the individuals on death row. Instead, it reflects the recognition that the death penalty is immoral. It is an irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction.”
Oregon abolished the death penalty in 1965, but then voted to reinstate it in 1978. National Review writes, “Three years later the state supreme court declared it unconstitutional before Oregon voters again supported its reinstatement in 1984, per the Associated Press.”
State Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson, leader of the Oregon House Republicans, blasted the governor’s announcement on Tuesday:
“Gov. Brown has once again taken executive action with zero input from Oregonians and the Legislature…Her decisions do not consider the impact the victims and families will suffer in the months and years to come. Democrats have consistently chosen criminals over victims.”
National Review adds, “The state has not executed a prisoner in 25 years. Brown’s predecessor, former governor John Kitzhaber, instituted a death penalty moratorium that Brown chose to continue when she took office in 2015.”
Brown has also been criticized for granting clemency during the Covid-19 pandemic to “nearly 1,000 people convicted of crimes. Brown allowed 73 people convicted of murder, assault, rape and manslaughter while they were younger than 18 to apply for early release.”
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